Top 10 Letters
The religion gap, "The Two Towers," Gary Carter, and more.
11:00 PM, Jan 12, 2003
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
In the midst of the breathtaking success of the Air Force's GPS in guiding everything from rental cars to smart bombs, we should not forget that in the 1970s and 1980s the system was assailed by some in Congress as useless because it supposedly would not work in a nuclear conflict (Christian Lowe, Smarter Bombs). Let us not forget that the "peace" movement opposed GPS because it supposedly would be useful in a nuclear conflict. And let us not forget that those dumb congressmen and stupid protestors sure sound a lot like the people who oppose a missile defense system today.
--Robert Eleazer, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret)
I have no doubt the report on the religion gap is accurate as far as it goes, but--at least according to Claudia Winkler's summary--it overlooks an even more important aspect of the secular/fundamentalist schism: the bitter antagonism within the conservative community between Christian fundamentalists and conservatives who are agnostic or secular-minded, or who practice Zen Buddhism, paganism, or traditional American-Aboriginal spirituality, or who merely hold spiritual convictions that are non-traditional in Western civilization (The Party of Unbelievers).
At least in Washington, where fewer than 28 percent of the state's families regularly attend church or temple, the fundamentalists have demonstrated again and again a vicious intolerance of any viewpoint save their own.
Indeed, the incipient and unreported clash between secular or non-traditionally spiritual conservatives and the Christian fundamentalist clique that dominates the Washington state GOP was the underlying reason for Sen. Slade Gorton's tragic loss in 2000--the loss that ultimately gave the Democrats the Senate.
Senator Gorton lost by about 1,000 votes. He refused to repudiate the fundamentalists, and some 25,000 voters--many times what it would have taken to defeat Maria Cantwell--fled to the Libertarian camp in disgust.
That this sort of division poses a profound danger to the long-term growth-prospects of a national GOP majority should be obvious. What is not obvious is the desperately needed strategy to re-unify the conservative community.
There may well be more to religion gap than first meets the eye: demographics. In simplest terms, in modern industrial nations, religious people tend to have more children than non-religious people. (One estimate that I ran into was 2.5 children per religious couple versus 1.7 children per non-religious couple. The former constitute an expanding population. The latter will dwindle unless they choose to have more children per capita.) While immigration and relocation obviously swell population numbers in states--Florida being the prime example--fecundity remains the most important growth factor. The red-state populations, being more religious, have more offspring than their blue-state counterparts. This will have a significant impact in the next decade. The 2010 census will probably require the shift of a number of blue congressional seats to red states, thus strengthening the Republican position in the House of Representatives.
The impact within the blue states should be more complex. Hispanics will increase in influence in the Democratic party (assuming they remain attached to that party in their current numbers). Being religious, they will continue to produce children at greater than the replacement rate (about 2.1 children per couple). In congressional elections, Catholics are no longer a Democratic constituency--at least to the extent that they were a generation ago. In any event, blue-state Catholics appear to have a lower birth rate than red-state Catholics, although those numbers probably need to be analyzed more thoroughly. In sum, it appears that a generation from now the core constituencies of the Democratic party will be blacks and Hispanics, with the latter predominating in numbers. Blue states will thus become more overtly black and Hispanic in their governments, although such states will retain large enclaves of red-state-type voters electing Republicans to the House.